Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

If your doctor suspects you have a personality disorder, exams and tests may include:

  • Physical exam. The doctor may do a physical exam and ask in-depth questions about your health. In some cases, your symptoms may be linked to an underlying physical health problem.
  • Lab tests. For example, your doctor may order blood tests, such as a complete blood count (CBC) or a thyroid test, to determine if a physical health problem may be causing some of your symptoms. Your doctor may also order a screening test for alcohol and drugs.
  • Psychological evaluation. This includes a discussion about your thoughts, feelings and behavior and may include a questionnaire to help pinpoint a diagnosis.

Sometimes it can be difficult to determine the type of personality disorder, as some personality disorders share similar symptoms. But it's worth the time and effort to get an accurate diagnosis so that you get appropriate treatment.

Diagnostic criteria

The symptoms and clinical features for each personality disorder are detailed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association. This book is used by mental health providers to diagnose mental disorders and by insurance companies to reimburse for treatment.

To be diagnosed with a particular personality disorder, you must meet DSM criteria. Each personality disorder has its own set of diagnostic criteria. However, generally the diagnosis of a personality disorder includes long-term marked deviation from cultural expectations that leads to significant distress or impairment in at least two of these areas:

  • The way you perceive and interpret yourself, other people and events
  • The appropriateness of your emotional responses
  • How well you function when dealing with other people and in relationships
  • Whether you can control your impulses
Jan. 31, 2014